European Parliament retaliates over Russia entry ban

Martin Schulz. Esterwegen, 2013. [Matthias Groote/Flickr]

The European Parliament retaliated against a Russian entry ban on European politicians and military leaders on Tuesday (2 June), saying Moscow’s envoy to Brussels was no longer welcome at the assembly and Russian lawmakers would be vetted before being allowed in.

The statement by European Parliament President Martin Schulz came a week after the Russian foreign ministry compiled a blacklist of 89 politicians, military and intelligence officials including outspoken critics of Russia.

“Martin Schulz today informed the Russian ambassador to the EU that … he considers that it is now justified to take appropriate measures in response,” Schulz’s office said in a statement.

>> Read: EU criticizes ‘unjustified’ Russian travel blacklist

Those measures include blocking free access to Vladimir Chizhov, the Russian ambassador to the European Union, meaning he would only be allowed into the parliament under special circumstances.

Members of the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, and the Federation Council, the upper house, will only be granted access on a case-by-case basis, Schulz’s office said.

Schulz has also suspended a committee made up of Russian and EU lawmakers that meets several times a year to improve ties.

The steps underscore the worsening standoff between the West and Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.

Since Russia annexed Crimea in March last year, the EU has imposed economic sanctions, visa bans and asset freezes on scores of Russian and Ukrainian citizens and organisations.

Moscow denies Western accusations that it is supporting pro-Russian separatists battling government forces in Ukraine, where 6,200 people have died in the fighting.

The European Union has imposed restrictive measures against Russia in an effort to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine.

The EU has condemned the violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity after the Russian armed forces entered and annexed the Ukrainian peninsula Crimea to its territory.

Russia has also been accused of providing direct military support to the Eastern Ukrainian rebels who control part of region.

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